So, I used to live in the city of Los Angeles, and used to be used to the hub-hub of traffic and constant people everywhere and everything new was around me, and thankfully there were the tranquil Santa Monica mountains and beaches were one could escape fairly easy on the weekend morning for a brisk run in the natural surrounding. So I used to live in this environment where hip restaurants sprang up everywhere, but for the last 3 years I have lived in the more mellow and laid back beach city of Long Beach, where things are quieter, a tad less trendy, but very comfortable indeed.
Last evening, my husband and I ventured into the city to meet a friend and try a trendy restaurant in town of which I had heard considerable good things, Osteria Mozza. The atmosphere of the restaurant is what I would describe as Manhattan Urban (or what I think of Manhattan, a place I have never been), with a brisk and professional service, and a chic sort of clientele. The food is interesting, an intermingling of traditional and contemporary flair. Nothing too modern, no foams or things like that I could see. I enjoyed for my appetizer a crab-cake shaped disk which was supposed to be Crispy Pig Trotters, which came with a frissee salad, while my dining companions had a tripe dish and soft shell crab. For our main courses I choose what friend Samantha had recommended, a ravioli filled with soft egg yolk and ricotta cheese, while Johan enjoyed his favorite, sweetbreads, and Nati enjoyed a duck ragu pasta.
For wine, Johan suggested something from northern Italy, opening the page of the wine book to Barolo.... we ended up with an interesting choice, a 1996 Odderro Barolo which was very enjoyable. It was brickish in color, with an aroma of a well-aged but not over-the-hill wine. I could detect smoke, mushroom and a touch of red fruit in the nose, while on the palate, the wine was silky, savory, and quite easy to drink. We enjoyed our choice, a nice change from a younger wine.
The interesting thing about the wine service was that after they decanted the wine without us requesting it (great), they brought three Burgundy glasses (great) which each had a drop of the wine in it (???). I was stumped, and turned to the others and said "tres bizarre!"
I still couldn't figure it out after discussing with the others if they had ever seen this before. No one at the table had. I looked for the wine waiter for a bit, but he never returned to the table, so I asked our regular waiter about the practice. He answered, "We put a bit of the wine you ordered in the glass as a way to season the glass. It is not done much around here, but done often in Europe. It helps to absorb whatever aromas that are in the empty glass so that when you do get a pour, you are getting the aromas of the wine and not of the glass which may have impurities such as chlorine or whatever."
So, the three of us at the table having been to Europe, and two of us (excluding me) having lived some time in Europe, and one of us having been born in Europe, and one of us having lived in Italy for a year (the place where the Osteria might have learned this practice) all denied having ever seen it in Europe. Hmm. Perhaps it gives validity to a new and innovative practice if one states it is practised widely in Europe?
Perhaps when I sell wine I also use this tactic? ie. Yes, people do this often in Europe?
Perhaps I also have customers who roll their eyes or stare blankly when I tell them what happens in Europe? Perhaps they also might at times know better than me what is done and not done in Europe??
Food for thought. But overall, nice wine service, great evening, and fun was had by all.